RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE ELECTION
* The Simonization of the Democratic Party. While the Democratic party certainly made some mistakes in this election, the 'solution' to the problem currently being voiced by the liberal faction is one destined to further marginalize the party. Folks tend to forget that Clinton was such a successful promoter of the Democratic party b/c he brought it to the center (towards the median voter) and enabled it to be competitive on a national level. What turned out to be a strategic blunder on message is being spun as a failure of the 'center-left' message of the moderate Democrats. California Republicans bought in to that same message (that they needed a conservative 'alternative' to Davis) in selecting Simon over Riordian (though Riordian certainly didn't help himself), and cost themselves the Governorship of the largest state in the union. If the Democrats make this same mistake, they won't have a chance next election cycle.
* The message of this mid-term election is that National Security is back as an election issue. "It's Terrorism, Stupid." could easily be the theme for the Republican gains this term. I'm not sure it is going to be a good wedge argument for the Dems to start staking out an 'alternative' position on the War (it certainly never helped them during the Cold War). The danger for the Dems is that the 'lesson' they take is the one mentioned above rather than that they simply failed to stake out a convincing alternative position on the economy.
* Along the same lines, a rising star in the Democratic Party and certainly a potential future player on the national scence is incomming Senator Mark Pryor. He askewed personal attack ads explicitly on Hutchinson...instead taking the more subtle approach of emphasizing his own family values (yes, fellow list members, it is not only Republicans that run on family values). He is an attractive, well-spoken candidate who presents a likeable image. I'd look for him to be a big player in Democratic presidential politics come 2008.
* Turnout. The Republicans certainly learned the lesson the Democrats taught them in 2000 on the importance of grassroots get-out-the-vote efforts. One explanation for the losses for the Dems is their failure to turn out the vote as well as they liked...but just as important was the ability of Republicans to turn out energized voters on the ground...something they have traditionally been unable to compete with the Democrats on.
* If the Dems replace Dick Gephardt with Palosi (sp?) in CA, a liberal representative, look for Republicans to try and woo conservative Democrats to make the party-switch (with some nice chairmanships as the kicker) and increase their margin. Furthermore, with such an ally of the Unions gone from the leadership, Hoffa's placement of the Teamsters in a more party-neutral position could become an increasing trend across the nation.
* Best Winner (D): Mark Pryor (great campaign, likeable candidate, and bad incumbant leads him to a buck-of-the-trend result)
* Worst Winner (D): Gray Davis (you get the feeling that if the Republicans had just nominated a shoe box, they could have taken CA)
* Best Winner (R): Bob Ehrlich (running against a Kennedy in a 2 to 1 Dem state and not shying away from blacks makes him a rising star)
* Worst Winner (R): Wayne Allard (Senator Dullard wins convincingly...but undoubtedly got a bump from a popular GOP governor and a high R registration in the state)